Germany and its Industrie 4.0

On May 18 a delegation of representatives of the Government and i2CAT visited Stuttgart, Amberg and Berlin. The main goal of the trip was to see closer some significant projects in the field of so-called Industrie 4.0. and unveiled the new Smartcat strategy. Throughout 2015, Catalonia leads the topic of Smart Regions in the framework of the Four Motors for Europe, and the "smart industry" is an essential part of this strategy.

If an idea has become clear as a summary of the whole trip is that Germany, from the research and innovation centers to SMEs or regional and local governments are all agreed that this is a strategic challenge: the convergence of ICT and industry.

The director of the Virtual Dimension Center in Fellbach, Christoph Runde, told us how "virtual engineering”, simulation and virtual reality technologies, will be able to create "digital twins" or virtual models of twin companies, which simulate processes of the factory of the future. This transfer center, created by the Stuttgart region, includes more than 80 companies specialized in these technologies and showed interest in collaborating with the Industrial Ring and the Computer Vision Centre.

Mr. Claus Mayer and Michael Gerner, both members of the Baden Württemberg government, described the BW Allianz Industrie 4.0, newly established and which includes -under the direction of the Economy Minister of the Land- leading companies and regional research and innovation centers. Its main objective is that the convergence of ICT and industry reachs the SMEs businesses, very strong in this Land. The General Director of Telecommunications and Information Society, Mr. Jordi Puigneró, introduced the SMARTCAT strategy of the Catalan government, which was accompanied by my introduction to the Industrial Ring 4.0, as a representative of the i2CAT. Finally, Mr. Klaus Funk, director of the microelectronic cluster MicroTec-Suedwest, insisted that the Industrie 4.0 is based on an integration task on a common platform, which had begun by the three digital clusters in the region: Bwcon, Microtech and VDC. He also explained how, with the project "Virtual Fort Knox," a secure repository proof hackers, they tried to reduce the strength of SMEs to share their data.

On 20th May, the delegation moved to Amberg, near Nuremberg, to visit the factory of Siemens. Accompanied by Josep M. Piqué and David Ramos of Siemens Cornellà, they show us what is considered the most advanced example of automated factory in Germany. With 4,500 employees, the factory produces PLCs (Programmable Logic Controller) leaders in the world: SIMATIC. What Siemens has made in the Amberg plant is to generate a PLC factory controlled simultaneously by a PLC system in a comprehensive way. Siemens is beginning to deploy in this factory its Industrie 4.0 strategy, based on the "Digital Enterprise Software Suite", a software that can generate a collaboration platform that facilitates the management of other industrial processes.

Finally, in Berlin we know the plans of the German capital to become the "Silicon Valley of Europe." Anja Sabanovic, head of the Industry Division of the government of Berlin, told us how the city two years ago opted for the reindustrialization of the capital, following the Industrie 4.0 model and how, unlike other regions, in Berlin the leadership of this strategy went in the hands of startups. Britta Havemann, member of the Berlin Senate, explained that this process was combined at the same time with the Smart City Berlin strategy, an approach that we see for the first time in Germany. Finally, Anne-Caroline Erbstösser of the TSB (an innovation center in the city of Berlin), explained the need to generate innovative projects with citizen support.

In short, Germany is not only aligned together under the Industrie 4.0 strategy; they rightly see that this strategy is based on the convergence of ICT and industry, given the competitiveness from American and Asian companies in this field. Finally, in the capital of the economic leader of Europe, they know that the smart industry should be linked to a smart city strategy with broad support from the citizenship, in order to avoid mistakes like the Tempelhof airport where the former mayor was defeated in a referendum by not satisfying their citizens with his urban planning project.

What should we do in Catalonia? The proposal that i2CAT does to the entire industry and the government is betting on the Industrial Ring 4.0, redesigning the old Industrial Ring as a real collaboratory.

The philosophy that inspires this proposal is the virtualization and federation. I2CAT is involved for years in international projects to generate a user-based Internet. Projects like User Controlled Lambda Paths with CANARIE or, more recently, European projects in SDN (Software Defined Networks), or the FIBRE project between European and Brazil, are based on the principles of the Internet: put intelligence at the ends of the network, at the users.

Now we have the opportunity to build with the new 4.0 Industrial Ring a collaborative environment where users from different industrial fields co-design solutions for the industry of 21st century with suppliers of digital services and research and innovation centers.

Facebook Twitter Twitter More...